CIA Gets the Go-Ahead to Fight Hizbullah

T-desco has written an excellent much of summation of the news in the last comment section. I have copied it below. (Thank you TD!)

CIA gets the goahead to take on Hizbollah – Telegraph

The Central Intelligence Agency has been authorised to take covert action against Hizbollah as part of a secret plan by President George W. Bush to help the Lebanese government prevent the spread of Iranian influence. Senators and congressmen have been briefed on the classified “non-lethal presidential finding” that allows the CIA to provide financial and logistical support to the prime minister, Fouad Siniora.

The finding was signed by Mr Bush before Christmas after discussions between his aides and Saudi Arabian officials. Details of its existence, known only to a small circle of White House officials, intelligence officials and members of Congress, have been passed to The Daily Telegraph.

It authorises the CIA and other US intelligence agencies to fund anti-Hizbollah groups in Lebanon and pay for activists who support the Siniora government. The secrecy of the finding means that US involvement in the activities is officially deniable.

The finding was signed by Mr Bush before Christmas after discussions between his aides and Saudi Arabian officials. Details of its existence, known only to a small circle of White House officials, intelligence officials and members of Congress, have been passed to The Daily Telegraph. advertisement

It authorises the CIA and other US intelligence agencies to fund anti-Hizbollah groups in Lebanon and pay for activists who support the Siniora government. The secrecy of the finding means that US involvement in the activities is officially deniable.

The Bush administration hopes Mr Siniora’s government, severely weakened after its war with Israel last year, will become a bulwark against the growing power of the Shia sect of Islam, championed by Iran and Syria, since the fall of Saddam Hussein.

Mr Bush’s move is at the centre of a fresh drive by America, supported by the Sunni states of Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt as well as Israel, to stop Iranian hegemony in the Middle East emerging from the collapse of Iraq.

Prince Bandar bin-Sultan, the former Saudi Arabian ambassador to Washington, is understood to have been closely involved in the decision to prop up Mr Siniora’s administration and the Israeli government, which views Iran as its chief enemy, has also been supportive.

Daily Telegraph

Bandar is rumored to become the next Saudi FM:

“Saudis who have intimate knowledge of the discussions regarding the possible reshuffle said Al Faisal, who has had health problems, might be replaced by Crown Prince Sultan’s son Prince Bandar, a former ambassador to Washington and current secretary of the National Security Council.”

AP

Asia Times: Neo-cons are still calling the shots. Jim Lobe on deputy national security adviser J D Crouch II: The superhawk behind the surge

Is Palestinian Chaos a Road to Peace? Time Magazine, Karon

The U.S. strategy appears to have missed what many Middle East analysts long ago concluded: that Hamas is now an intractable part of the Palestinian body politic that represents close to half of the population, and cannot simply be wished or blown away. For any U.S. peace plans that are predicated on giving it a knockout blow, the group's mass support — to borrow a phrase from Al Gore — is an inconvenient truth.

Russia, US differ on states impeding Lebanon probe:

ReutersRussia wants the U.N. Security Council to find out which nations are not cooperating fully with an investigation into political murders in Lebanon, Moscow’s U.N. ambassador said on Tuesday.But France and the United States, among other Western council members, disagree with putting such a request to Serge Brammertz … .

In Lebanon, the opposition has claimed it will begin phase II of its attack on the Siniora government, meant to bring it down. Saad Hariri is picking up the batton from Jumblat in defending the government and attacking what he calls Hizbullah's "political terrorism."

Hariri says Lebanon is Facing ‘Political-Intellectual Terrorism’

Parliamentary majority leader Saad Hariri on Sunday accused Hizbullah of being the “spear head” of an alleged Syrian-Iranian assault on the Paris III conference and pledged to confront what he described as political-intellectual terrorismNaharnet

Egypt frets dire consequences if Lebanese deadlock intensifies

BEIRUT: On the eve of the preparatory meeting for the Paris III donor conference, Egypt issued a harshly worded statement warning the Lebanese of "dire consequences" if the political deadlock intensifies with the escalation of anti-government protests. 

US Ambassador Jeffrey Feltman also made his rounds Tuesday by visiting a representative from the March 14 Forces camp, Telecommunications Minister Marwan Hamadeh, and Omar Karami from the March 8 camp.

"The US expressed its support for Lebanon and will be one of the main donors at the Paris III conference and will help Lebanon in the preparations and its success," said Hamadeh after the meeting with Feltman.

For our tea leaf collection

UPI: “There is no doubt that Israel`s fighter-bombers have been training for a long-distance mission; NATO sources say they have for weeks been watching Israeli warplanes running flights the length of the Mediterranean to Gibraltar — and nobody expects an Israeli strike on Gibraltar.”

Are Bush’s Wars Winding Down or Heating Up? by Paul Craig Roberts

Most Americans believe that Bush’s Iraqi misadventure is over. The occupation has lost the support of the electorate, the Congress, the generals and the troops. The Democrats are sitting back waiting for Bush to come to terms with reality. They don’t want to be accused of losing the war by forcing Bush out of Iraq. There are no more troops to commit, and when the “surge” fails, Bush will have no recourse but to withdraw. A little longer, everyone figures, and the senseless killing will be over.

Recent news reports indicate that this conclusion could be an even bigger miscalculation than the original invasion.

On January 7 the London Times reported that it has learned from “several Israeli military sources” that “Israel has drawn up secret plans to destroy Iran’s uranium enrichment facilities with tactical nuclear weapons.” The Israeli Foreign Ministry denied the report.

The Times reports that “Israeli and American officials have met several times to consider military action. Military analysts said the disclosure of the plans could be intended to put pressure on Tehran to halt enrichment, cajole America into action or soften up world opinion in advance of an Israeli attack.”

In other news reports Israeli General Oded Tira is quoted as follows: “President Bush lacks the political power to attack Iran. As an American strike in Iran is essential for our existence, we must help him pave the way by lobbying the Democratic Party (which is conducting itself foolishly) and US newspaper editors. We need to do this in order to turn the Iranian issue to a bipartisan one and unrelated to the Iraq failure.”

Former EU External Affairs Commissioner Calls for Dialogue with Syria, Iran on Iraq

Wednesday, January 10, 2007 – 02:00 PM

London, Jan. 10- (SANA)- Former EU Commissioner for External Affairs Chris Patten stressed importance of the recommendations of the U.S. Baker-Hamilton Panel on calling for opening dialogue with Syria and Iran to get out of the bloody chaos in Iraq.

In an article published Wednesday by the British Financial Times daily newspaper, Mr. patten said Damascus and Tehran were ready to help the U.S. to escape the catastrophic consequences of its policy in Iraq. 

He criticized British Prime Minister Tony Blair's unlimited support to the policy of U.S. President George Bush on Iraq, saying that throughout 2002 and 2003 Mr Blair's support for US policy hamstrung those in and outside the administration who were trying to re-strain the neoconservative hawks. 

Mr. Patten added that support from Syria and Iran will require Washington to make clear that its policy is not directed towards them.

UN wants $60M to help scattered Iraqi refugees

CNN International – Jan 8, 2007

UNITED NATIONS (CNN) — As up to 50,000 Iraqis flee their homes every month, the U.N.'s refugee agency said Monday that it will seek $60 million this year to help the roughly 3.7 million people displaced by violence in the war-ravaged nation.

The problem is larger than mere displacement, a U.N. news release states, as women are increasingly forced to resort to prostitution and reports of child labor problems are on the rise.

Also, in Syria, where hundreds of thousands of Iraqis are seeking refuge, about 30 percent of Iraqi children are not in school and more than 10 percent of Iraqi families are headed by women.

About 300,000 refugees have been displaced both internally and externally just since November, according to UNHCR reports. About 2,000 a day were arriving in Syria and about 1,000 a day were arriving in Jordan, according to a November report.

In a nation of about 26 million, "the current exodus is the largest long-term population movement in the Middle East since the displacement of Palestinians following the creation of Israel in 1948," according to the UNHCR Web site. 

An Open Letter to the UN Chief – by Sami Moubayed – a moving letter by Sami, summing up the feelings of many Arabs about the UN and the problems of the Middle East, particularly the Palestinian problem.

Comments (116)


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101. Alex said:

Akbar,

a quarter of Lebanon’s population (a million) demonstrated against the current govenment in Lebanon, yet the American administration has the nerve to call this “Syria is attempting to regain its influence in Lebanon” .. if 75 million Americans demonstrated (quarter) would they be able to brush it off that easily? no. Why? because American democracy and the great American system works for internal affairs. When it comes to foreign policy, anything goes … all you need is to create a situation or a “threat” where any representative or journalist will sound less than patriotic if he criticizes the administration’s actions.

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January 12th, 2007, 5:46 pm

 

102. Atassi said:

Alex,
It is great to end your comment with “God bless Syria”, but with the understating that IT WAS NOT INTEANDED TO MAKE ANYONNE MORE “SYRIAN” THEN OTHERS, YOUR VIEWS ARE NOT NATIONALIST THEN OTHERS,

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January 12th, 2007, 5:48 pm

 

103. Alex said:

My friend Atassi,

I just don’t understand the need to switch to MORE DRAMATIC TONE that you often do.

Was there anything specific that FP did that made you feel he is trying to claim an exclusive ownership of the “I am the most patriotic Syrian” title?

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January 12th, 2007, 5:55 pm

 

104. Alex said:

On the road to Damascus

By Elie Podeh

In an article in Haaretz (“Markers on the road to Damascus,” Dec. 29, 2006), Itamar Rabinovich states that the Israeli government has two political options – progress along the Syrian track or progress along the Palestinian one – and that a discreet clarification with Syria would enable it to decide which option is preferable. In my view, progress along the Syrian track is in any case preferable to progress along the Palestinian one at this time, for several reasons.

First, the way things look today, the prospects for solving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict are not promising. The Palestinian political scene is in crisis. The Hamas government cannot control Palestinian society because of its struggle with Fatah, which is challenging its authority. The dispute between Hamas and Fatah is not just political; it is also ideological, touching on fundamental issues such as recognition of Israel and the willingness to negotiate openly with it. As long as Hamas – which represents at least 40 percent of the Palestinian electorate – refuses to negotiate with Israel, the chances of Israel conducting serious talks with the Palestinians are slim. Although Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas is trying his best to convey a willingness to enter into a dialogue with Israel, apparently his ability to control and influence Palestinian society and politics is limited. Thus, it must be concluded that any political initiatives regarding the Palestinian-Israeli conflict might fail because of internal rivalries and rifts within the Palestinian camp – irrespective of the Israeli government’s readiness to make concessions.

The second reason for preferring the Syrian track is the fact that a peace treaty with Damascus would help Israel deal more effectively with the heart of the problem: the conflict with the Palestinians. A treaty with Syria, which would likely lead to a major breakthrough in Israeli-Lebanese relations, would close the circle of Israel’s conflict with its neighbors and help improve its relations with Arab states, in the outer circle. If that happens, the Palestinians would be isolated and, naturally, weaker, vis-a-vis Israel.

The third reason for preferring the Syrian track is that it would affect, directly or indirectly, Syria’s relations with Iran and Hezbollah. Since Syria is a major player in the axis of radical states in the region, its removal or increased distance from it would necessarily weaken the axis. Some experts estimate that talks with Syria would not necessarily distance it from Iran or Hezbollah; however, practically speaking, it seems reasonable to assume that Syria’s participation in diplomatic talks with Israel, European countries and perhaps even the United States would affect its relationship with Iran and Hezbollah.

The fourth reason for preferring the Syrian track is that a political solution vis-a-vis Syria appears less complicated than a political solution in the Palestinian track. Most of the components of a peace settlement were discussed in secret talks in the 1990s and only a few issues (the final boundaries of the Israeli withdrawal, the Sea of Galilee issue and the early-warning installations) have not yet been worked out. However, they can be solved with some creative thinking. A solution in the Palestinian track is more complex because of the refugee question, the Jerusalem problem and the need to contend with a tough ideological core of settlers.

To what extent is Syria prepared to dialogue with Israel? The signals Damascus is sending out apparently indicate a willingness to initiate dialogue. The motive behind this readiness might not be the “right one” – that is, a willingness to recognize Israel – and may rather be the need to deal with various challenges in the regional and international spheres. Nevertheless, the reasons that would bring Syria to the negotiating table are of interest to historians, not to decision-makers. The late Egyptian president, Anwar Sadat, launched his peace initiative not because he recognized Zionist claims, but rather because of his domestic political and economic difficulties.

Like the talks with the Palestinians in the previous decade, the negotiations with Syria could collapse. However, if the Israeli government embarks on this dialogue with sufficient determination, and on the assumption that there really is a partner on the other side, the prospects of success exceed the risk.

The writer heads the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Department of Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies.

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January 12th, 2007, 5:59 pm

 

105. Alex said:

Syria diplomat: No preconditions to negotiations with Israel

By Akiva Eldar, Haaretz Correspondent in Madrid

Damascus will not accept any preconditions over entering negotiations with Israel, Syrian delegation head to a Middle-East conference in Madrid, Riad Daoudi, said on Friday.

Daoudi, the top legal adviser to Syrian President Bashar Assad and to the Foreign Ministry in Damascus, responded to MK Ophir Paz-Pines’ (Labor) criticism of Syria’s support of Palestinian Islamic group Hamas and close ties with Iran.

He said that those issues could be discussed in the future as part of possible talks, but that in any case Hamas and Iran play a significant role in the area and cannot be ignored

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January 12th, 2007, 6:06 pm

 

106. Alex said:

Iranian president is visiting Iraq!

نجاد يزور العراق وفي جعبته رزمة أمنية

GMT 17:00:00 2007 الجمعة 12 يناير
يوسف عزيزي

صفوي يحذر دول المنطقة من مصير كصدام
نجاد يزور العراق وفي جعبته رزمة أمنية

يوسف عزيزي من طهران: يزور الرئيس الايراني محمود احمدي نجاد بغداد قريبا بهدف تعزيز العلاقات الثنائية بين ايران و العراق. وتتم الزيارة التي لم يعلن عن موعدها المحدد حتى الان تلبية لدعوات رسمية مكررة من الرئيس العراقي جلال الطالباني.

وعلمت ايلاف ان احمدي نجاد يحمل معه رزمة تتضمن حلولا للمشكلات الامنية التي يواجهها العراق حاليا حيث سيقدمها الى نظيره العراقي. وقد ابرم وزيرا الداخلية الايراني و العراقي قبل اشهر اتفاقا امنيا بشأن يقضي الى التعاون الامني بين البلدين غير ان ذلك لم يؤد الى ضبط الاوضاع في المناطق الحدودية بصورة كاملة

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January 12th, 2007, 6:27 pm

 

107. majedkhaldoun said:

what would stop US forces from arresting M.A.Najad,as he vist Iraq, since US arrested iranian in Erbil?

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January 12th, 2007, 6:39 pm

 

108. Ehsani2 said:

“Politics is Intensified Economics, Remember.”

Can someone explain this profound statement please?
It is just too deep for me to understand.

“What I simply know, is that Syria has been under political and economic constraints ever since I can remember and is continuously intended to be in such a situation on acount of its political orientation.”

First, I am not a professional economist. It does not pay enough. You should be happy to know that my profession is significantly more financially rewarding.

Second, your statement above is the perfect party line for accepting failure and economic under-achievement. If your political orientation is going to continue to cause economic hardship for the vast majority of your people, then you ought to move away.

Third, you accuse me of being one “who want to cleanse our hearts and brains from any notions of Arabism, Nationalism, and Patriotic thoughts, the ones who enjoy lecturing us about Sunnis, Alawies, Kurds, Christians and Shia’a in Syria, the ones who are eager to sell all, so that some sympathetic western journalist can heap praise at them and at their enlightened anti-terror and their illusionary pro-democracy gibberish”.

I guess this is the difference between you and me. I think of priorities. Mine is higher standards of living, sustainable economic growth, moderate level of government regulation and taxation and support for the private sector at the expense of the public sector. Your list of priorities is “Arabism, Nationalism and patriotic thought” among others. You want a government and a leader that can support those notions. You seem more than willing to accept sub-par economic existence for your people in the interim.
I don’t. Indeed, I resent your attempt at “takhween”.

I also agree with Atassi above. Ford-Perfect’s God bless Syria is the same as hearing Americans call their ultra conservative talk show hosts (Sean Hannity) and telling him “you are a great American”. It is unwarranted. Is there y harm in saying it? No. But, by choosing to insert every time, you seem to want to believe yourself that you somehow love your country more than Atassi or me who choose otherwise.

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January 12th, 2007, 6:45 pm

 

109. Alex said:

Ausamaa,

If only you knew how much Ehsani makes … he makes more than all of us combined. And he is certainly not clueless about Syrian idiosyncracies.

Having said that, Ehsani:

You know that Syria’s economic performace is highly correlated to an external factor: who is in the White House and how much of a cowboy is he.

During Reagan’s 8 years and during this administration’s ugly 8 years, Syria’s attempts to reform its economy had to slow down dramatically… the Europeans got convinced that it was Syria who killed Hariri and they decided to halt their cooperation with Syria. Same happened int he eighties when they were convicned that Hindawi was paid by Hafez to blow up a civilian Israeli airplane leaveing from London. Again, Syria was boycotted and its economy went through some very bad years (much worse than today)

So, it is partially, and not entirely “the Syrian regime’s fault” … I am sorry if the two cowboys (Reagan and W. Bush) did not know what is a “Syria” when they took office and they were scared to go there and do business with that country … Syria is too complicated for them to understand, so they decided to boycott Syria instead.

You know that during Carter and Bush senior things got better.

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January 12th, 2007, 7:08 pm

 

110. Ford Prefect said:

Dear all, there are people on this blog who are anti-Syrian and not just anti Syrian government. Their comments hit hard the very core of any Arab, let alone Syrian. In most of my comments, where i said repeatedly I am not a Government or regime beneficiary, I view the Syrian Government, with many of its ills, as an integral part of the Syrian society. Therefore, and at the end of each of my comment, I concluded with the sentence that I genuinely believe in: “God Bless Syria.” While I am a secular Syrian, I still believe Syria will benefit from God’s blessing as much as it deserves the blessings of its people.

Atassi did make his point clear, and I respect him for that. The sentence might have offended him or made him feel uncomfortable. So, with great respect and continued pride, I removed it (note, I do keep it, however, in my own personal copy of the postings!) I know most of you and I know how genuinely and deeply patriotic you are (and you know who you are too). There is no need for clichés – lets continue with our commitment to the Mother Syria. [Closing signature removed by request.]

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January 12th, 2007, 9:06 pm

 

111. Ehsani2 said:

Ford perfect,

Well said. Bravo

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January 12th, 2007, 9:08 pm

 

112. Atassi said:

Ford Prefect,
Ford Prefect,
As you may know, I have been admiring you intellectual assists, your smart logical thinking for so many years. You have earned my respect in the past, and I am grateful for your understanding. I hope to see you soon when you are in town 

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January 12th, 2007, 11:09 pm

 

113. Ford Prefect said:

Thanks Atassi. I am still hitchicking rides across the Universe. If my spaceship that is propelled by the Infinite Improbability Drive ever drops me in town, you will be the first to receive a call from my Sub-Etha Sens-O-Matic telephone 😉

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January 12th, 2007, 11:45 pm

 

114. sam said:

Kudos Ford

God Bless Syria.

Too bad we are not in Damascus (Tijara section) Sandwiches, and Yogart milk for all, and for those that don’t like it in a sandwich, you can have it ARAAAB!

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January 13th, 2007, 1:32 am

 

115. aussamaa said:

Dear EHSANI2

I do not know why you have misunderstood me and thought I was intending you in my remarks. You mainly address economic issues, so whatever I mentioned about Patriotism, Arabism and Nationalism etc..,was definitly not directed at you at all. Perhaps what I directed at you (and K.M.Keynes) was the Economic bit. So, there is no “Takhween” or anything like that. Who am I anyway to use that against anyone on this blog? A “Khae’in” is some one who has practically conspiered with the enemy against his own country, not someone who has a different approach, or has harsh criticism, to a given goverment action, approach or set of policies. With such points of view, anyone can agree or disagree, accept or refuse, and chose wether to let it pass or to shoot holes through it.

And you are right, I stand corrected; Politics is “Condensed” Economics, that is the right term I beleive, by Marx perhaps..

Heck, ALEX should have mentioned that thing about how much money you make erlier so I would have been more selective in my choice of responses and words…

Anyway, about Takhween again, I think we have enough Clear and well Identified adversaries around us so we do not really need to “invent” new ones, so rest assured that none of remarks in that regard was directed at you. Why should it be, anyway?

Regards,,

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January 13th, 2007, 8:47 am

 

116. Ford Prefect said:

Thanks Sam,
I love every falafel sandwich, every glass of Laban 3iran, and every street vendor ever lived in Sham, Homs, Hama, Halab, Idlib, BoKamal, Quamishli, Tudmor, Dar2aa, and everthing in between. While two Pepto-Bismols will help with the eating, nothing will erase the great memory and that indigenous resolute of Arabism and patriotism in Syria that fills the Syrian air. Tijaara it is – let’s all meet there and tell the planners at EAI that it might be a bit too difficult to change that air by stirring up Lebanon and adding 20,000 soldiers to the fiasco in Iraq. Aint’t happening in Syria.

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January 13th, 2007, 10:55 am

 

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